ATHENS, Greece — The opening-day performance by USA Wrestling’s women’s freestyle team at the Cadet World Championships could have been viewed through a lens of program growth.
Two Americans wrestled their way Wednesday to Cadet gold medal matches, the most for the United States since 1999. Two more fell victim to World medalists.
All in all, it was a good day that felt like it could have been even better for the United States.
Thursday, on the other hand, showed how much work still remains for the American program in its quest to compete with Japan.
The United States dropped both of its head-to-head gold medal battles with Japan and fell to 0-5 on the tournament in matches against Japanese opponents.
No country, of course, is having a great deal of success against Japan, which lost just one match in last year’s Cadet World Championships when it hauled home eight golds and a silver. Japan scooped up three golds and a silver Thursday and advanced five more wrestlers to Friday’s gold medal bouts.
The United States has three opportunities to add to its hardware count, but there are matches that still need to be won by Caitlyn Walker, Olivia Shore and Kelani Corbett to up the medal total and ease some of Thursday’s sting.
The United States endured a turbulent morning.